Mycoskie sold his online driver education company for $500,000 to finance Toms shoes.[14] The company name is derived from the word "tomorrow",[9] and evolved from the original concept, "Shoes for Tomorrow Project".[16] Mycoskie initially commissioned Argentine shoe manufacturers to make 250 pairs of shoes. Sales officially began in May 2006.[14] After an article ran in the Los Angeles Times, the company received order requests for nine times the available stock online,[14] and 10,000 pairs were sold in the first year. The first batch of 10,000 free shoes were distributed in October 2006 to Argentine children.[7][17][18][19]
Toms' business model is known as the "one for all concept" model, which is referring to the company's promise to deliver a pair of free shoes to a child in need for every sale of their retail product. The countries involved have included Argentina, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda, South Africa and the United States.[26] The business has grown beyond producing shoes and has included eyewear and apparel in Toms product lines. The company uses word-of-mouth advocacy for much of its sales, centering its business focus on corporate social responsibility. Part of this model originally involved a non-profit arm called "Friends of Toms" that recruited volunteers to help in the shoe distributions in foreign countries.[27] Toms trademarked the phrase "One for One" to describe its own business model.[28] Toms has received criticism from the international development community [29][30] who have stated that Toms' model is designed to make consumers feel good rather than addressing the underlying causes of poverty.[31] Criticisms have also included whether or not the shoe donation is as effective as a monetary donation to other charities.[32] Toms responded to this criticism by moving 40% of its supply chain for shoe donation to countries they actively give in. Toms presently manufactures shoes in Kenya, India, Ethiopia and Haiti.[33]
In June 2014, the company announced that Mycoskie was looking to sell part of his stake in the company to help it grow faster and meet its long-term goals.[23] On August 20, 2014 Bain Capital acquired 50% of Toms. Reuters reported that the transaction valued the company at $625 million; Mycoskie's personal wealth following the deal was reported at $300 million.[2] Mycoskie retained 50% ownership of Toms, as well as his role as "Chief Shoe Giver". Mycoskie said he would use half of the proceeds from the sale to start a new fund to support socially minded entrepreneurship, and Bain would match his investment and continue the company's one-for-one policy.[24][25]
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